Dunlop Motorsport News Saloon Car Championship - August 1st 2009 - Brands Hatch Grand Prix Circuit
Rounds 9 and 10 of the Dunlop Motorsport News saloon car championship took place on the Grand Prix circuit at Brands Hatch on Saturday. This would be a rare treat for our drivers to sample the delights of one of the best circuits in the world even though the races were not quite as long as we would have liked. Qualifying saw Rod under real pressure from the powerful Nissan Skyline of Darren Bly. It wasn’t until his last lap that Rod snatched pole position with a time of 1 minute 35.921 seconds, which was just 0.2 seconds quicker than the Essex man. Lining up third would be Tim Lewis from Beckenham in his Alfa Romeo, with Nick Williamson annexing fourth in his Escort Cosworth.
With a massive grid of 44 cars it was essential that Rod made a good start; and he did just that to head the pack into Paddock Bend for race one. With the turbocharger set for high power Rod just held onto the lead as the field went out onto the GP loop. However, a BMW driven by Dan Parker, ploughed into the gravel bed at Surtees Bend so the safety car was soon deployed to allow the stricken car to be removed. On the re-start Rod again powered away but was shadowed even more closely by Darren. For five laps the two leaders were less than a quarter of a second apart, but half way around the final lap Bly slowed when a fan belt came off and his car over heated which forced him to retire just as the race finished. Rod therefore took the chequered flag with Darren’s stable mate Mark Biggers inheriting the runner up spot. Lewis and Williamson had clashed at Westfield Bend, which left the Escort in the gravel trap, whilst Lewis recovered to fifth. Rick May took third position overall and victory in class B, with Gareth Porter finishing a remarkable fourth and claiming class C as well as driver of the race. Class D saw a new winner in the shape of Lee Penn with a very pretty Alfa Romeo 33. Class E went to Peter Crewes and Nigel Craig took the tin top guest class.
Just minutes before the second race it started to rain heavily. All the teams quickly changed tyres and the start was delayed for two laps behind the safety car, as drivers adapted to the conditions. Once the green flag flew Rod quickly got into his stride and our black Escort Cosworth sped away. Mark Biggers hung on to second place but soon realised he had an engine problem which later transpired to be a cracked block. He retired at the end of lap 3. Surely his bad luck has got to change soon.
Up into second place came Lewis who seemed to be lapping at the same pace as Rod until he suffered a minor off course excursion. This left Rod comfortably in front as he cruised to his 495th career win and also maintain his 100% winning record so far this year. Ten seconds back Tim took the runner up spot with Gareth Porter third in his Peugeot. Rick May fell back to ninth overall which meant he lost his five race winning streak, as he was only fourth in class B. Fourth overall went to Adie Hawkins in another nicely prepared Alfa Romeo, with Ray Barrow just holding off Kevin Bird (Seat) for fifth. Lee Penn again won class D and also picked up the driver of the race award. Stratton Mackay had a good run in his Subaru to take eighth overall and also win the best prepared car award. Andy Thompson rounded out the top ten.
Class E again went to Peter Crewes, although his fellow West Countryman Mike Edgell pulled off so Chris Watkinson took second in class this time. Terry Searles revelled in the wet conditions and moved from second to win the tin top section with his MG ZR, as Nigel craig literally slipped back but still maintained the runner up spot. He even held off the four wheel drive Cosworths of Malcolm Wise and Paul Nevill.
Rod has slightly extended his overall lead in the championship, which now heads off to the super fast Thruxton circuit near Andover in Hampshire on August 15th.